Spring sports: excitement, resilience, and safety.
Masks cannot conceal the enthusiasm that the Friday Harbor Wolverines have for their participation in school sports this year. Despite all of the interruptions in Phases I and 2 and restrictions for safety caused by the threat of COVID, the Friday Harbor athletes are coming back to the field with renewed energy and determination.
Friday Harbor High School Athletic Director Brock Hauck said he feels very proud of the way the young athletes are stepping up to the plate and going the extra mile.
“These kids are so eager to play, they are willing to go to practices wearing masks and following the distancing rules whenever they can,” Hauck said.
Because of the COVID restrictions from earlier this academic year, all sports will be played as three short seasons beginning with normal spring sports. Each season will run for six weeks, with the last day of spring sports being April 3. For Fall sports, the first practice will be March 29, the week of April 5 will be the first competition and the season will end May 8. The winter season will begin May 3, the first competition happening in the week of May 10, and the season concluding the week of June 12.
On March 12, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the Roadmap to Recovery will be transitioning from a regional approach to a county-by-county evaluation process. As the entire state enters Phase 3, on March 22, there will be in-person spectators for outdoor high school sports. The guidelines specify that masks must be worn and social distancing must be maintained, and outdoor seating capacity is capped at 25%.
Approximately 50 students showed up for the six spring sports teams at Friday Harbor High School. The sports being played are girls fastpitch coached by Kevin Cullen; girls tennis coached by Brian Lambright; boys golf coached by Jack Rice, and girls and boys track and field coached by Shannon Plummer.
The coaches are excited as well. Plummer, head coach for boys and girls track and field, is entering his fourth year as head coach.
“The first two years were amazing, back-to-back state appearances for a few of Wolverine track and field teams. Then last year, the world seemed to spin out of control, all sports were interrupted,” Plummer said. “Now, a year later, the Wolverine track and field traveled to Coupeville for a meet. It was heartwarming to see athletes competing again.”
Wolverines baseball coach Warin also noted his team’s enthusiasm.
“We had some first-game jitters, but all in all it was a good start to the season,” Warin said.
The team’s first game against Coupeville was March 6, and the Wolverines won 7-5.
Lambright, head coach for girls fastpitch, commended his athletes on their punctuality.
“I can count on them arriving for practice ready for action even when it is so cold their hands are turning red,” Lambright said.
Golf coach Rice explained that before the season’s first match on March 1 against Grace Academy, both teams had only practiced for a week.
“Assistant Coach Gordy Waite told me the other night this might be the best group of kids we have ever had,” Rice said.
Rice’s feelings are echoed by Hauck, who said, “These are great kids who have the passion and willingness to show up and play because they want to! It’s very inspiring to see how dedicated they are to their team and putting their best out there.”
Kevin Cullen described the state of difficulty the tennis team faces.
“We have a very inexperienced team this year, with only a few from our competition team that has ever played a competitive match,” Cullen said. ”However, they are a fantastic group of girls, with tremendous attitudes, that are excited about the opportunity to play.”
In a letter to parents dated Feb. 24, Hauck asked for cooperation from family, friends, and the community to give the team members the recognition and support for their efforts to comply with the many changes this school year brings.
“What I am asking may not be popular, but is required in order to play,” Hauck said.
Hauck emphasized the importance of simply participating in school sports over the competition of it.
”We will need to work together to ensure that we do safely,” he said.
The need to focus on team cohesiveness and learning the new COVID guidelines was echoed by Cullen.
“As most of our squad has not played before, this year is about building skills, building the team, and building a love for the game,” he said.
Hauck has requested that both athletes and spectators screen themselves for COVID symptoms. At every practice, the students are asked if they have a fever, cough, sore throat, Close contact with COVID-19. Then each student’s temperature is checked. Hauck noted that masks are to be worn at all times, and social distancing is observed even while transporting to or from games.
“If a mask is not worn at all times, you will be asked to leave,” Hauck said.
Hauck explained spectators are expected to practice social distancing of 6-feet away from anyone who is not a household member, with a limit of 200 total people allowed at all events. Hauck added that because that maximum includes athletes, coaches, officials, and workers at some events like track, there may be no spectators allowed.
“However, for most of our sports, we believe the number of spectators will fall within the given parameters of 200 total people,” Hauck added.
Register online at nfhsnetwork.com to watch the Wolverines’ games. To view the Wolverines’ sports schedules, visit https://fhwolverines.com/.
“Strange Days indeed. We didn’t really know what to expect with all that has happened this last year,” Warin said. “Kids are really excited to be back. … Go Wolverines!”